First Installment in the Hozac Hookup Klub
by Kevin J. Elliott

The current economy (or lack thereof) has yet to halt the relentless release schedules of many of the underground’s most lauded little labels. In fact, it seems like these labels are thriving. I can’t blame them: I can give up cigarettes, alcohol, pistachios, but records? It’s an addiction that has tangible rewards in hours of fun. So when Hozac threw their hat into the singles club ring, it was second nature to pass on the heating bill and send that $65 directly towards a year’s worth of vinyl. While this club wasn’t advertising a whole gang of noteworthy names, the Hozac imprint is a seal of quality, a label that has introduced me to some of my favorite bands of the moment, so who’s to say they couldn’t do that in monthly installments?

Unlike Sub Pop and Columbus Discount’s versions of the “club,” where the subscriber gets a surprise at the mailbox each successive month, Hozac has decided to send out packages of 3 during different times of the year. The surprise, as I’ve gathered from this first batch, is just how great those singles are going to be.

Austin’s Woven Bones is that exact germ of discovery that has made Hozac a force among their peers. “With You Alone” is somewhat timely, given the recent death of Lux Interior, as the single is swamped in a thick glaze of mysterious goo-goo muck and plenty of graveyard fog. The same way that guitarist Bryan Gregory begot the Jesus and Mary Chain, both those bands lend a pall of influence over Woven Bone’s chugging exhaust and spizzle feedback soloing. “Sitting Sick” is even spookier, slowed down to a shaman’s death march, as if percussion was made with skulls filled with lug nuts, and a morphine drip caused them to nod in and out on the wah pedal. I’d love to hear a full-length just to verify if this is real voodoo or paint-by-numbers garage rock adorned with smiling skeletons.

Idle Times is the work of one Brian Idle, who was unceremoniously borne of the long-forgotten Catheters (still worth looking up though). His entry is the lesser of the three, if only because his bedroom recordings have yet to find an identity, and for better or worse, spiral around an amorphous stain of cult-psych. “Million Miles Away” (not a Plimsouls cover) for instance, is crummy enough, but sort of exists in the ’70s proto-metal vacuum, still a place I don’t ever mind visiting. Often saddened that there’s only an album’s worth of J.T. IV material, it’s nice to hear modern songwriters tap into that primordial schizoid vein. Similar in scope, but not tone, is “Whatever Works for You,” a Bolan-esque glam fix that doubles as loner folk stunted in vapor trails. Combine this with his Woodsist debut and I’m dead-set on holding out hope that Idle Times delivers in the coming year.

Finally, depending on your patience for the C86 soft (loft)-pop revival will predicate your threshold for the Dum Dum Girls. Dee Dee from the West Coast is one woman blaring buzzsaw guitars through tiny speakers, batting tin foil for drums, and not as beach-combed and cheery as the descriptors might give out. In fact, the doomed “Longhair” strays closer to a dreary Manchurian bus stop or the Raincoats playing Warsaw than any hint of sunshine. Concluding the B-side is a Lynchian cum black-hole cover of Jerry Butler’s “Let It Be Me;” you’ve found the jukebox at the end of the flat-earth. Considering she’s made some beautiful music with Mr. Blank Dog as the Mayfair Set, I’m at a loss to determine which of the two are gloomier.

For now, the Hozac Hookup Klub scripts are all sold-out, but they’ve promised to compile all the songs, plus bonus cuts, on an LP once this celebration is over. Rejoice.